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House OKs bill promoting religious freedom
House OKs bill promoting religious freedom
Nation
House OKs bill promoting religious freedom
by Daylight Abas24 January 2023
Photo courtesy: House of Representatives

A measure to protect the right of people to freedom of religion in the country got approved by the House of Representatives on Monda, January 23 on its third and final reading.

The chamber passed House Bill 6492 or the Magna Carta on Religious Freedom Act which seeks to prevent the government or any person to burden, curtail, impinge or encroach on a person’s right to exercise his/her religious belief, freedom, and liberty of conscience, with a total of 256 affirmative votes, one negative vote, and three abstentions.

Author of the said measure, Manila Representative Bienvinido Abandte Jr. mentioned the right to freedom of religion or beliefs is placed in Section 5, Article II of the Constitution, stating that “the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed."

He further said that "HB 6492 ensures that no act of the government or any of its agencies, instrumentalities, officers or employees shall burden, curtail, impinge or encroach on the person’s right to exercise one’s religious belief, freedom and liberty of conscience and the government must also prohibit any act by a person, natural or juridical, or any group of persons that burdens or encroaches on the said right."

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In the proposed bill, the person's freedom of religion and liberty of conscience shall not be denied, burdened, regulated, or curtailed even if it is a result of the rule of the general applicability of existing laws except in certain cases.

Meanwhile, the bill consists of penalties for violation of provisions of the proposed law with fines ranging from P50,000 to P2 million or six years and one day of imprisonment until 10 years, which depends on the offense and the offender.

The Secretary of the Department of Justice is mandated to establish, maintain and publicize a toll-free number to provide timely and accurate information and respond to queries regarding the rights protected under the measure.

Authors of the proposed bill include Camarines Sur Reps. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., Miguel Luis Villafuerte, Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata and Gabriel Bordado Jr.; BICOL SARO Party-list Rep. Nicolas Enciso VIII, CIBAC Party-list Rep. Eduardo Villanueva, Tarlac Rep. Noel Rivera, Maguindanao and Cotabato Rep. Bai Dimple Mastura and Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe.

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